Councillor, Capital Ward
Percy rapid bridge replacement
The Percy rapid bridge replacement has been causing significant problems, with increased traffic, speeding and inaccessible pathways under the 417. This provincial project is out of our municipal jurisdiction, but letters from residents underscore legitimate concerns. As of this writing, our office has been working with the Ministry of Transportation, City staff and Joel Harden’s office, and some lanes on Chamberlain and the underpass for walking/biking were to be open again temporarily as of October 3. We have been told the bridge replacement could not go forward (twice) because of engineering issues. My office is continuing to work with MTO to mitigate detours and resulting traffic problems.
Lansdowne 2.0 vote
In November, City Council will vote on the Lansdowne 2.0 proposal, a plan to redevelop Lansdowne Park again that would require the city to incur new debt to build new north stands, residential towers and a new arena. Alternatively, the city could choose to make lifecycle upgrades to the current stadium complex. With regular maintenance, the stadium and arena should last for another three decades.
The original plan was developed more than a year and a half ago and, aside from the original sticker price of over $330 million dollars, which has no doubt increased since then, the proposal needs numerous changes. Here’s what we want to see fixed.
Staff have proposed three towers be built where the north-side stands and retail stores currently sit; the towers could be up to 35 or 40 storeys. To maintain the heritage elements of Lansdowne and help traffic to and from the site, we need to eliminate the third tower at the east end of the stadium, as it would encroach on the Aberdeen Pavilion and much-needed greenspace.
The potential loss of greenspace is a significant concern. We are looking at upwards of 50,000 square feet of the great lawn being lost to a new arena. We cannot add hundreds or thousands of people to this site while also reducing the amount of greenspace, with no new cash-in-lieu funding from the developer to make up the shortfall.
In fact, we must be looking for ways to enhance, not reduce, public amenities at the park. The original proposal commits less than five per cent of total funding to improving the public areas of the park, and it proposes to spread that money over a decade or more. Public realm enhancements must come at the beginning of this project, so that as more people come to Lansdowne, we have the necessary amenities for them.
Affordable housing is also a concern – we cannot rely on “market-affordability,” a pricing system that has already made housing unattainable for so many. Lansdowne 2.0 must provide non-market housing units, either on site or close by – we should stick to our own rules when selling public land (i.e., that 25 per cent of the sale be directed to affordable housing).
Of course, if we are to bring more people to Lansdowne, then we need to know how they’re get to and from the park, and how they move through the park.
As part of the proposal, the City identified a host of potential improvements to transportation but they didn’t propose a plan on how we’d get it done. That’s what we need: a proper transportation plan that honestly reckons with the traffic problems we’re already seeing at and around Lansdowne.
We need better transit: ideally, a permanent free or inexpensive shuttle on Bank Street; better support for efficient alternative modes of transportation; proper and safe access to the canal pathways; and an end to cut-through traffic in Aberdeen Square.
The financing for this plan will rely on “Property Tax Uplift” – taking property taxes from new units to finance part of the redevelopment and relying on returns from the so-called financial waterfall, something that has not yet materialized as promised at Lansdowne.
We want to see Lansdowne succeed, and we have been working consistently with City staff and local communities on a plan. If I don’t see significant changes in the final Lansdowne 2.0 proposal, I will be voting against it.
The proposal will be considered by a joint Finance and Planning committee meeting on November 2 with a final vote at full special council meeting on November 10.
If you would wish to speak at the committee meeting, contact committee coordinator Eric Pelot at (613) 580-2424, ext. 22953 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On any issue, please feel free to reach out to my office at CapitalWard@ottawa.ca.